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ChrisJJ 06-09-2011 02:41 PM

Burned out outlets - are we in danger of a fire? (Question 1)
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We had/have two electrical problems and wonder if they are connected and so indicate something really wrong. I thought I would post one problem first and the other problem in a separate thread.

Background - not sure if any of it is relevant: Our house is a 1967 raised ranch in central NY. We've owned it for almost 10 years but between when it was built and us, it had several owners. Each one probably did some work involving the circuits because the breaker box & the circuits are confusing. We did a garage renovation this winter/spring which involved changing some circuits (we switched a electric range to gas to free up power which went to the garage). We pulled a building permit and the electrical inspector said that our circuit breaker box passed but it was messy & crowded and recommended we have it cleaned up.

This winter we suddenly lost power in one basement room (4 outlets & ceiling light). We hired an electrician who found one outlet with the hot wire burned. There was nothing plugged into this outlet when the power was lost to the circuit.

Last week the same thing happened again on the same circuit in the basement. This time it was 8 outlets and three lights that went out. I went to the "Circuit Detective" website and by following his diagnostic tree found the bad outlet on my first try. What bothers us is that this outlet is showing the exact same burn marks. There was one thing plugged into it but it was not actively drawing power when it burned. I've included a couple of photos. From the style & color of the outlets, we're thinking they are original to the house.

- If there's no draw on the power, why would the hot wire burn out on both of these outlets?

- Is it a fluke that this happened to two outlets and if not, should we replace all the rest of them? Do outlets go bad?

- While our basement is actually quite dry, it's still a basement and so we're wondering if moisture is corroding the wires or something like that.

Thanks in advance for any information & advice. It's making us rather edgy to think about random little outlet fires downstairs.

DexterII 06-09-2011 02:50 PM

Not an electrician, so definitely stay tuned for some of them to pop by, but the first thing I see is that your receptacle is stamped "CU wire only", and with a house built in '67, it is very possible that you have aluminum wire, in which case you need devices suitable for that. So, you may want to take a look at that in the mean time.

AllanJ 06-09-2011 02:55 PM

The receptacles were daisy chained from one to the next and if a connection is loose along the way, it heats up and burns out even if nothing is plugged into the receptacle where the loose connection is.

You could open up other outlet boxes and take out the switches and receptacles and check for loose connections.

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